Skillet-Fried Chicken

The cover of this month’s Bon Appetit claims this is the only fried chicken recipe you’ll ever need. Mighty lofty claims I thought. I figured I’d better try it out and report back. Since Jim was going to be out of town tonight (he’s not a big fried chicken fan), I decided tonight was the perfect opportunity.

I have not made a ton of fried chicken in my life, but I’ve certainly made it a few times. It always seems very complicated. Lots of buttermilk, lots of soaking. This recipe wasn’t like that. There’s one cup of buttermilk used in the dipping liquid. The spices you marinate the chicken in overnight weren’t complicated. You didn’t even need a ton of oil. And for once I didn’t change, increase or decrease a single ingredient – I made the recipe exactly as it was printed.

Skillet-Fried Chicken

To learn the best way to cut a chicken into ten pieces and see a video of the recipe being prepared from start to finish, go to

4 Servings

Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, published in the February, 2012 issue.

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 3–4-lb. chicken (not kosher), cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)

Special Equipment:

A deep-fry thermometer


Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.

Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. After marinating in the spices for a day, the chicken was already looking tasty. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2″ baking dish.

Pour oil into a 10″–12″ cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4″. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.

Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess.

Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts. I was pretty impressed with how close I got to the perfect internal temperature!

Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.

Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

So what’s my verdict on the chicken? I think Bon Appetit was right and you can throw out all of your other fried chicken recipes. It was easy, crispy, a little spicy but not too much. My son, who for some reason hasn’t had much of an appetite lately, ate three pieces and claimed we should from now on have “Fried Chicken Friday’s”. When I said I didn’t think that was probably going to happen, he said that he at least needed to eat this every week and a half.

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Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

My life has been so busy lately that I feel lucky if I get to eat a meal, and getting to sit down to eat it would feel extra luxurious. Except for dinner, I always with sit down with the family for that. Often I go weeks without having a moment to check out some of my favorite cooking blogs, as was the case on Monday when I finally took a moment to visit Smitten Kitchen. I’ve always loved her site, and her recipes always work. When I got on the other day, I printed out 3 of the first 4 recipes I scrolled through, and I am proud to say that less than 48 hours later, I had made all 3 and they all were terrific. I’m starting with this recipe for no particular reason.

As I was assembling the ingredients for this I realized I had a bit of a brain lapse while in the grocery store. I was standing there looking at the ground turkey that the recipe called for and was just getting so grossed out at the way it looked, that I wandered over to the ground pork and decided that, this being an asian-style recipe, using half turkey and half pork would probably be an interesting and appropriate substitution. But, when I was gathering my ingredients today I pulled my ground pork and ground beef out of the fridge — I accidentally bought ground beef instead of the ground turkey; I guess I really do have an aversion to it. So I used 50% ground pork and 50% ground beef, and they tasted great. If you’ve got a similar aversion, you can substitute the same. I’m going to write the recipe exactly as I used it, but the original recipe called for 1 pound of ground turkey. Deb had reduced the cilantro and ginger from what was originally called for. I increased mine a bit, since I adore both ginger and cilantro. You can use less if you prefer. I also reduced the dipping sauce down significantly so it would really cling to the meatballs.

Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Original recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Canal House Cooking, vol. 3

Note: This recipe is gluten-free if you use a soy sauce that is labeled gluten free. There were many options on the shelf at the store.

Yield: The original recipe suggest 24, Smitten Kitchen got 34, and I got a whopping 51 meatballs, but I happened to have a tiny ice cream scoop that measures exactly 1 tablespoon that I used, so my meatballs were very uniform in size.


  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup soy sauce, preferably Japanese or reduced sodium
  • ½ cup mirin (sweet rice wine), or
  • ½ cup sake with
  • ¼  cup sugar
  • ¼  cup peeled, chopped ginger  (I probably used a tad more than 1/4 cup, but that’s a lot of ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 whole black peppercorns (no, I did not count how many I put in there)


    • ½ pound ground pork
    • ½ pound ground beef
    • 4 large or 6 small scallions, finely chopped
    • Half bunch cilantro, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup) (the cilantro-averse can use flat-leaf parsley)
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, toasted if you can find it
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Vegetable oil

Make sauce:  Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar melts completely. Reduce heat to a medium-low and add soy sauce, mirin, ginger, coriander and peppercorns. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes, though this took me a bit longer to reduce it until it was syrupy enough that I thought it would coat, and not just dribble off the meatballs. You can keep it on a back burner, stirring it frequently, while browning the meatballs in the next step. Once it has reduced to your satisfaction, strain through a sieve (I actually chose to not strain the sauce, but go ahead and follow the recipe.)

Make meatballs:  Mix ground pork and beef (or turkey), scallions, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce and several grindings of black pepper in a bowl. You can mix the meatballs with a fork; it seems to work the ingredients into each other well, but growing up making swedish meatballs, I always use my freshly washed hands to mix my meatballs.

Roll tablespoon-sized knobs of the mixture into balls. I used a tiny ice cream scoop that I have, and first scooped all the meatballs and then I rolled them with slightly wet hands. The mixture is pretty soft, so you can try rolling them, or gently toss the meatballs from palm to palm until they’re roundish 

In a skillet over medium-high heat, generously cover bottom of pan with vegetable oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, place meatballs in pan and cook, turning, until browned all over and cooked inside, about 8 minutes per batch. I drained mine on a paper towel slightly before putting on a serving plate.

Arrange on a platter (a heated one will keep them warm longer), spoon a little sauce over each meatball, and serve with toothpicks. Alternatively, you can serve the glaze on the side, to dip the meatballs.

Do ahead: The sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated until needed. If needed, you can rewarm or keep the meatballs warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve.

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Orzo and Kidney Bean Soup with Kielbasa & Bacon

I was in the mood for soup on Thursday, and found this recipe on my favorite go-to recipe site, Cook’s Illustrated. I did change quite a bit from the original recipe, but it was a great launching pad for recipe creativity. I’m not a big cabbage fan, so I substituted kale instead and doubled the called for carrots and celery. I also wanted to make it more of a meal, so in addition to increasing the bacon slightly, I also added 8 oz. of chopped kielbasa to the soup. And I don’t care what anybody says about flavor; I think that gelatinous juice that canned beans are in is nasty. I rinsed and drained mine before adding to the soup. I was afraid that the soup wouldn’t have enough flavor with just using water as the base, so I eliminated some of the water and substituted 26 oz. of chicken broth instead. I wasn’t sure what to think of the cinnamon called for, but I used it. I can’t say I tasted it, but you’re free to use it or eliminate it. Although the original recipe called for only white pepper, I also added about ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.


Serves 6 to 8 as a main course.  

Original recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, published September 1, 1999.  Recipe altered significantly by Crafty Farm Girl, January 2012.

Don’t grate your potato until just ready to add it to the soup or it will discolor quickly. Adding the pasta to the pot last, when just about ready to serve, helps it hold onto its bite.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 
ounces bacon or pancetta, diced fine
  • 8 oz. kielbasa, quartered lengthwise and sliced about 1/3” thick
  • 4 oz. chopped kale (or more to taste)
  • 1 
medium onion, diced fine
  • 2
 medium leeks, white parts only, washed thoroughly and chopped fine
  • 2
 small carrots, peeled and diced fine
  • 2
 ribs celery, diced fine
  • 1
 potato, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1
(16-ounce) can red kidney beans (red), about 1 1/2 cups, rinsed and drained
  • 1/ 4
teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4
 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • About ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 6 
ounces orzo (1 cup)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Brown the bacon in the olive oil in a large soup kettle or stockpot over medium heat. When it’s beginning to get brown add the sliced and quartered kielbasa and continue to cook, stirring frequently until the bacon has finished cooking and the kielbasa is a bit browned.

To that same pot add the chopped kale, onion, leeks, carrots and celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring a few times as you sauté . Add reserved potato, beans, peppers, salt, cinnamon, 1 quart hot water and 26 oz. chicken broth; bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 5 minutes to meld flavors.

Add orzo, reduce heat to low, and simmer until orzo is tender, 7 to 8 minutes. If you find soup is too thick, you can thin it with additional chicken stock or water.

Adjust seasoning with additional salt, if necessary, and serve, passing grated cheese separately.

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Pear, Apple, Fennel & Cheddar Pizza

You might have read about the amazing meal my sister and I had recently at Leon’s Full Service in Decatur, Georgia. One of the appetizers I had (that’s right folks, I had more than one), was a flatbread with apple butter, grilled fennel, apple slices and cheddar cheese. It was amazing. Sweet and savory. Unexpected. Delicious. I was worried that it would taste like anise, but the grilling must do something to the fennel, because it just gave the pizza a wonderful flavor and a little crunch.

I set out to re-create this while on vacation in Wyoming with Amanda’s help. I decided I wanted to try a pear butter instead of an apple butter. This was purely aesthetics on my part; I didn’t like the dark brown colors of the apple butter I was finding at the stores, but I came across a beautiful pear butter.

Of course when I went to make it here at home for this post I couldn’t find any pear butter, so I had to make my own. It was easy and really delicious. I put the seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean in a heavy, non-reactive pot with some seeded, roughly chopped peeled ripe pears and a little apple cider and reduced, mashed, reduced, and reduced some more until almost all of the liquid evaporated. I did not add any sugar as it was for this savory pizza and my pears were nice and ripe, but if I were making it to preserve it, I would have added some sugar. I would only make your own if you can’t find it in the stores ready-made or if you’re planning on making a bunch to can at the same time.

Now the dough was interesting. I found the recipe from Bobby Flay on Food Network’s website. Lots of the people that left comments noted that the dough was very wet. When I made the dough in Wyoming (altitude of 6329 feet), and I made it twice, the dough was absolutely perfect; not too wet at all. When I made the dough in Connecticut (sea level), the dough was almost too dry and hard. It was fine after it rose, but I did consider adding some liquid back into it when I first finished it. My point here is pay attention when you’re making it. It was a lovely dough though and easy to work with and roll out. I’d recommend it for any pizza or flatbread recipe.


Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay

Prep Time: 15 min, Inactive Prep Time: 4 hr

Serves:  4 individual flatbreads or 1 large flatbread

1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil, plus more for bowl

Mix water and yeast in a large bowl and let stand 5 minutes to proof. Gradually pour in 2 cups of the flour and stir to incorporate. Mix for about 1 minute to form a sponge. Let stand, covered, for at least 1 hour.

Put sponge in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook, add the salt and oil, then add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a dough. Remove from bowl and knead. Place in a clean oiled bowl and let rise, slowly, about 2 1/2 hours. Divide dough into 4 balls, let rise again for 1/2 hour, and then roll out as desired.

Pear, Apple, Fennel & Cheddar Pizza

Recipe by Crafty Farm Girl, January, 2012

1 recipe flatbread dough
pear butter, either store-bought or home-made
1 large, crisp apple, peeled, cored & thinly sliced (I used Honeycrisp)
Fennel bulb, cleaned, outer leaf removed if necessary, thinly sliced & grilled
Some tender ends of fennel stalks
chopped walnuts
sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (don’t get extra-sharp)
cornmeal (to dust pizza pan with)

Mis en Place. I, of course, forgot the walnuts.

You can cook your pizza on a pizza stone if you have one (put it in the oven before you pre-heat your oven), or on a metal pizza pan, or just on a baking sheet as I did. Dust the pan lightly with cornmeal to prevent sticking. If you are using a pizza stone, then turn a baking sheet over and dust the underside of the pan with the cornmeal. You can easily slide the pizza off the back of the pan onto the heated pizza stone from there. Preheat the oven to 475o F. Allow oven to preheat completely before putting pizza in.

Once your flatbread dough is ready, and depending on whether you want two large flatbreads or 4 smaller ones, (or you can save and freeze some of the dough to use another time), divide your dough. On a lightly floured surface roll out dough until thin. Move dough to prepared pizza pan.

Spread a thin later of the pear butter over the entire pizza crust using an offset spatula, leaving the edges clear.

Evenly distribute grilled fennel around pizza.

Now of course I forgot the walnuts this time, but don’t you forget them, because they add an important flavor to the pizza! I have a picture of that part from one of the Wyoming pizzas.

Then evenly distribute the apple slices around the pizza.

Sprinkle the cheddar cheese around just short of the edge of the pizza.

And finally add some of the tender fennel greens around on top of the cheese.

Put pizza into preheated oven (or slide off pan onto pizza stone), and bake until cheese is just beginning to brown a little, about 6-12 minutes. This time will vary a lot on pan or pizza stone and individual ovens.

Pear, Apple, Fennel & Cheddar Pizza

Slice using pizza wheel or large knife and serve immediately.

If you’re in the mood to try something a little different, you’ll be pleasantly pleased with the outcome of this pizza.

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French Crullers

I am back from our two-week vacation in Wyoming. As you may have noticed, I took a break from blogging for the most part. It was a necessary break to recharge my creative batteries (and recover from a nasty cold).

While I brought out a donut cookbook I had, I never did get around to making any out there. Today though, with reality knocking (loudly) on my door and the kids moaning about school tomorrow, I decided some crullers would be the perfect treat for all of us. Now I’ve made crullers before, but I felt like I was just short of getting them ‘just right’ the first time. This time I incorporated all that I learned the first time with things I thought of after, and this time, they were about as close to perfect as I could imagine.

I am not a big donut fan; I find them heavy and doughy, and usually not worth the calories consumed for the pleasure (or lack of) eating one. A good cruller though is light and airy and a perfect treat. So much more impressive-looking than your average donut, and because they are made from a simple Pâte à Choux Dough, they are actually much easier to make than a normal raised, yeasted donut.

Recipe from the book Donuts by Elinor Klivans. Adapted slightly by Crafty Farm Girl, January, 2012.

Pâte à Choux Dough

Makes 8 crullers

4 tablespoons (2 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup (4 fluid oz.) water
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
Canola oil for brushing parchment and deep frying
Vanilla-orange glaze (recipe follows)

Place a wire rack on your work surface with parchment, waxed paper or newspaper underneath to catch dripping oil and glaze.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine water, the butter, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Stirring to melt the butter. Add the flour all at once and stir viforously with a wooden spoon until the flour is incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan in a ball. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. The dough will continue to pull away from the pan sides in a large clump.

Scrape the dough into a large bowl, Using an electric mixer set on medium speed (use the paddle attachment for a stand mixer), beat until the dough forms large clumps, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beatinguntil smoothly blended after each addition. Add the vannilla and beat until smooth.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour about a teaspoon of oil onto the parchment and with a pastry brush, brush the oil all over the parchment. Use more oil if necessary. Cut the oiled parchment into 3 strips and each strip into 3 squares. Place another piece of parchment on the baking sheet and arrange the oiled parchment squares onto the baking sheet.

Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch star tip and full the bag with the dough. Pipe a 3-inch circle of dough onto each of the 8 squares of oiled paper.

Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a deep-fryer or deep, heavy saute pan and heat over mediun-high heat until it reads 360 degrees F on a deep-frying thermometer. Place the piped crullers into the freezer while your oil is heating.

Vanilla-Orange Glaze

Makes about 3 cups glaze

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2-1/2 cups (10 oz.) confectioner’s sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
5 tablespoons hot water (plus more as needed)

In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla and orange extracts and water until smooth. Whisk in 1-2 teaspoons more hot water if needed to give the glaze a thin, light, consistency. Use right away.

When the oil has reached 360o F, remove the crullers from the freezer. Turn over one of the dough-topped paper pieces and slide the dough circle into the hot oil. You may need to use a thin spatula to get it started, but then it should gentle fall into the oil. Repeat to add 1 or 2 more dough circles to the oil. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan. The crullers should increase in size. Deep-fry until golden on the first side, about 2 minutes.

Using tongs, a wire skimmer, or a slotted spoon, turn and fry until dark golden on the second side, about 1-1/2 minutes longer. I found that some of the crullers got cracks in them as they were frying, and a few extra brief turns in the oil sealed those up. Transfer to wire rack, fluted side up, to drain. Fry the remaining crullers.

I found that glazing the donuts while they were still pretty warm but not hot worked best. It allowed just the thinnest layer or glaze the remain on the donut, leaving it nice and light. Place the crullers, one at a time, into the glaze, and turn it with a fork to cover completely. Lift it out and allow as much glaze to drop off as you can. Replace on wire rack and allow to cool.

Crullers are best eaten the day you made them.

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The Last Supper • Asian-style Chicken Noodle Soup

As I madly ran around Friday night trying to finish last minute preparations for my crack-of-dawn departure for my road trip, I did manage to at least make one more meal for my family. I’d made some home made chicken stock on Thursday, and that evening I took that out of the fridge, skimmed off the fat that had collected on the surface, and re-heated it on the stove.

Of course as we sat at the table eating it the kids acted like it was the last meal they would EVER be eating with me, like I was abandoning them forever to go and join the circus or something.

You can easily use store-bought chicken broth and chicken to make this too. You can also add any other ingredients you’d like to it — maybe some mushrooms or chopped bok choy. I used the ingredients I had on hand, and so can you.

Assemble all of your ingredients.

To the simmering broth I added some medallions of peeled ginger (from a 1″ piece).

Add some medallions of peeled ginger.

And then I added some finely diced, peeled, carrots.

Add some finely diced, peeled, carrots.

I let that simmer for about 10 minutes, and then added the shredded chicken I’d reserved from making the stock.

Add the shredded chicken.

Let that simmer for a few minutes until the stock comes back to a simmer, then turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the chinese egg noodles (they look like ramen noodles, but without the seasoning packet; you can find them in the asian-food section of the grocery store). Let that come to a boil and separate the noodles as they soften using two forks.

Add chinese egg noodles to boiling stock.

Working quickly, as you don’t want the noodles to overcook, add some chopped cilantro to the stock and stir to combine.

Add some chopped cilantro and quickly stir to combine.

Quickly plate the soup into individual bowls, distributing the chicken evenly with tongs. Serve while piping hot.

Ricotta & Chive Gnocchi

I recently posted gnocchi in a brown butter sage sauce that was delicious. That was the first time I’d made gnocchi in probably 25 years. It was fun! When I was at my local library for the lecture by The Beekman Boys for their new 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, I saw that Amanda Hesser and Merril Stubbs were going to be there this coming Monday promoting their new cookbook Food 52. I had never heard of this book (trust me, I own enough cookbooks already), but Erin, one of the librarians at the library, was explaining the book to me, so I checked it out on Amazon. It was really highly reviewed, so I decided to order a copy and bring it with me to the Library. I kind of liked getting out of the house at night!

There were so many delicious recipes in the book that I can’t wait to try, but while Amanda was home from college this weekend she was really looking for some of Mama’s comfort food. She asked me to make meatloaf’s for her that we froze and she took home in her suitcase. Apparently one fell out of her carry-on onto the kid  sitting next to her who exclaimed “sick!”.  She also had me make my spicy hummus, which she took home in small containers, and she made some of the chocolate chip cookies I recently posted to bring down to her friends, too. We decided this gnocchi recipe should be the first one we tried. They were terrific. The crust from frying them after you boil them made them extra yummy. I added

Ricotta and Chive Gnocchi

Recipe from The Food 52 Cookbook by Amanda Hesser & Merril Stubbs. Adapted (slightly), by Crafty Farm Girl, November, 2011.

Serves four to six

3 Russet potatoes
2 Eggs
1 c. ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup chives
2 cups Flour (making sure you have extra on hand for rolling them later)
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the russet potatoes. Boil for 45 minutes, draing the water through a colander, and let the potatoes cool. Following what I learned from the earlier gnocchi recipe, I peeled and riced the potatoes carefully while still hot and spread them out to cool on a rimmed baking sheet. Discard the skins.

Once the potatoes have cooled down, add the eggs and stir into the mixture. Once the eggs have been incorporated, stire in the ricotta, parmesan, and chives.

At this point, the mixture should be very thick, but it needs to be thick and maliable as dough. Add the flour and stir together until you get that consistency. I found this easiest to do by turning the mixture out onto a clean work surface and kneading it until it came together. Continue kneading, flouring the work surface as necessary, until it’s more dough-like and doesn’t stick to everything in sight. Cut the dough into 4 pieces.

Begin rolling the dough, a section at a time, with your hands as if you’re forming a large snake. I found it easiest to cut the coil into two pieces about half-way through to make it easier to work with. Continue rolling until you form rolls that are no bigger than a quarter in circumference. (Any bigger and you’ll have difficulty cooking them.) I probably made mine about the size of a nickel around.

From the skinnier rolls, take a knife or pinch off little sections and roll them around in the palm of your hand to make the gnocchi. You may need to continue dredging them in a little flour as you go, which is fine. Set all the finished gnocchi on a large plate to the side. I found it easiest to cut all the gnocchi, and then I went and rolled each one to form a more evenly rounded shape.

Once all the gnocchi have been formed. Dump them into a boiling pot of hot, salted water. Boil the gnocchi for five minutes to ensure their centers are nice and dense. (They will automatically start popping up to the top of the pot once they’re cooking, but make sure you give them a little extra time in the water.)

Drain the boiled gnocchi through a colandar or remove from the boiling water with a strainer. Then, in a very large saute pan over medium high heat, add two tablespoons of oil and butter. Add just enough gnocchi to the pan where they have enough space to get a light, brown crust around them. I seasoned them with salt and pepper in the pan. Add more oil, butter, and gnocchi when the first batch is done. When plating the gnocchi, lightly season them with a little kosher salt, parsley, or extra chives and some grated parmesan.

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Pumpkin Cake Roll with Maple & Orange Buttercream

I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year. As far as family, only my immediate family will be there, and Amanda is coming home from college for the long weekend. I can’t wait to see her! We will be having dinner for 14 people, and included will be my best friend, Cyrena, my ex-husband, my friends the Hiltons, and Lorraine Hilton’s sister. Everyone is bringing something, even Lorraine, who is in the middle of a kitchen renovation and only has a hot plate and a microwave to use!

I am not a fan of pumpkin pie, but felt that some sort of pumpkin dessert should be on the menu. I make a mean pumpkin cheesecake, but just wasn’t in the mood. For some reason I felt like a pumpkin roll cake seemed like the right thing. I searched the internet and found several different recipes. Taking a bit from each one, I changed so much that I really can’t call this anything but an original recipe. However, to use correct blogging etiquette, these are the recipes I primarily referred to: Taste of Home Pumpkin Cake Roll, Wilton Pumpkin Roll Cake, and Cook’s Illustrated Classic Coffee Buttercream Icing.

What I like about this recipe, besides it being really delicious, is that you can make it as simple or as fancy as you want, or have time for. If you’re pressed for time, or don’t want to make it so fancy, you can just make one flavor buttercream and spatula ice the cake simply. If you have the time or interest, make both flavors of the buttercream, pipe a little icing along the bottom edge and put the grated chocolate and edible gold flakes on top.

Note that you really need to roll the cake when it is still very warm. If you wait until it has already cooled you risk cracking the cake.

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the photos. This is not a terribly hard recipe. Even if you don’t want to try the whole recipe, you can make the delicious cake and spread vanilla ice cream in the roll and ice it with Cool Whip. It will still be yummy.

Pumpkin Cake Roll with Maple & Orange Buttercream

Recipe by Crafty Farm Girl, November, 2011.

Makes about 16 servings.


• ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
• ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground cloves
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 4 eggs, separated
• 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
• 2/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• ½ cup ground pecans

Filling & Icing
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch table salt
1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks), softened, each stick cut into quarters
4 oz. pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon finely minced orange zest
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract)
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
¼ teaspoon orange extract
Grated bittersweet chocolate (optional for decoration)
Edible gold (optional for decoration)

For the cake, preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease an 11 x 17 in. jelly roll pan, line with parchment paper; grease and flour parchment paper. Set aside. Spread a clean kitchen towel on a wire cooling rack and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Set aside.

In medium bowl, sift together flour, spices and salt.

In large bowl, beat egg yolks until frothy with electric mixer.  Add ½-cup sugar; continue beating 3-5 minutes until thick and light in color. Add pumpkin and flour mixture; mix until well combined.

In separate bowl, beat egg whites until frothy with electric mixer. Add lemon juice; continue beating 2 minutes. Gradually add remaining ½-cup sugar; continue beating until soft peaks form.Add pumpkin and flour mixture; mix until well combined.

Sprinkle ground pecans over egg whites; gently fold in.

Fold about 1 cup of egg white mixture gently into pumpkin mixture to lighten. Add another 2 cups egg white mixture and fold in again.

Add remaining egg white mixture and fold again until no white streaks remain.

Spread evenly into prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes (mine took exactly 20 minutes). Remove cake from oven. Gently loosen edges of cake from pan. Carefully turn cake onto prepared confectioner’s sugar-dusted dish towel. Cool cake 3-5 minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper.

Starting at a short edge, roll up cake with kitchen towel. Transfer rolled cake to cooling rack; cool completely.

For icing combine eggs, sugar, and salt in bowl of standing mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water. Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until thin and foamy and registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer. Beat egg mixture on medium-high speed with whisk attachment until light, airy, and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Divide mixture evenly between two bowls (use a kitchen scale if you have one.

Place half of mixture back into mixing bowl and on medium speed, and 2 sticks of butter, one piece at a time. (After adding half the butter, buttercream may look curdled; it will smooth with additional butter.) Once all butter is added, slowly drizzle in maple syrup, increase speed to high and beat 1 minute until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined. Remove maple icing and place remaining egg mixture back into mixing bowl.

Follow instructions as above, but once you’ve incorporated all of the remaining 2 sticks of butter, drizzle in the extract, liquor and orange juice, and then mix in the orange zest. Increase speed to high and beat 1 minute until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined. (Buttercream can be covered and refrigerated up to 5 days.)

Cut a piece of cardboard about 2” longer and wider than cake roll. Cover with aluminum foil and tape securely.

On a clean work surface, unroll cake. Using an offset spatula, smooth the orange buttercream to edges of cake. You may have a little icing left over, depending on how thick you want the icing. Carefully re-roll the cake (without the towel this time!), being careful to get a tight roll, but no so tight that you squeeze out the icing. Using a large, sturdy spatula, move the cake roll onto the prepared foil-covered cardboard. If you have a little icing left over, smooth some onto the ends of the roll. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to firm up the cake before you ice the outside.

Remove the cake from the fridge, and using the maple buttercream, spatula-ice the outside of the cake. If you want to get a little fancier you can put some of the remaining icing into a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe a decorative shell border around the base of the cake. If you want to take it another step, grate some bittersweet chocolate with a grater and sprinkle that over the top of the cake. For the last level of fancy, sprinkle the cake with edible gold flakes.

Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes to firm up the buttercream, then you can cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Keep refrigerated until about 3 hours before serving, and then remove to room temperature until serving. Buttercream is always best when served at room temperature.

Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage

I haven’t made gnocchi in years, but I saw this recipe on the cover page of last weekend and decided it was time to make it again. I love brown butter sage sauce. There’s a great short tutorialright now on the cover page of Cook’s that shows you step-by-step exactly how to cook these gnocchi. It’s really quick and shows you all the steps to get it right. I made them twice now in 2 weeks. The first time I was in the middle of like 5 other things so the potatoes rested a little long after coming out of the oven. I don’t think it affected their flavor or texture, but I think it made the rolling of them a little more difficult. The second time I was just concentrating on the gnocchi, and made the dough with hot, riced potatoes that I cooled on the pan for 5 minutes as the recipe called for, and the dough was much easier to form.

Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage


Original recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, published September 1, 2011.

Serves 2 to 3 as a main dish, or 4 to 6 as an appetizer

Making gnocchi is simple: Cook the potatoes; peel and mash; knead the cooked spuds into a dough with a minimum of flour; shape; and boil for a minute. And yet the pitfalls are numerous (lumpy mashed potatoes, too much—or too little—flour, a heavy hand when kneading, and bland flavor). We wanted a foolproof recipe for impossibly light gnocchi with unmistakable potato flavor. Baking russets (streamlined by par-cooking the potatoes in the microwave) produced intensely flavored potatoes—an excellent start to our gnocchi base. To avoid lumps, which can cause gnocchi to break apart during cooking, we turned to a ricer, which gave us a smooth, supple mash. While many recipes offer a range of flour, which ups the chances of overworking the dough (and producing leaden gnocchi), we used an exact amount based on the ratio of potato to flour so that our gnocchi dough was mixed as little as possible. And we found that an egg, while not a traditional ingredient, tenderized our gnocchi further, delivering delicate, pillow-like dumplings.

For the most accurate measurements, weigh the potatoes and flour. After processing, you may have slightly more than the 3 cups (16 ounces) of potatoes required for this recipe. Discard any extra or set aside for another use.



  • 2
 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1
 large egg , lightly beaten
  • 3/4
 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) all-purpose flour , plus extra for the counter
  • 1 
teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon salt
  • Sauce

  • 4 
tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 4 pieces
  • 1
 small shallot , minced
  • 1 
teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 1 1/2 
teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4
 teaspoon salt
  • Instructions

    FOR THE GNOCCHI: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Poke each potato 8 times with paring knife over entire surface. Microwave potatoes until slightly softened at ends, about 10 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through cooking.

    Transfer potatoes directly to oven rack and bake until skewer glides easily through flesh and potatoes yield to gentle pressure, 18 to 20 minutes.

    Holding each potato with potholder or kitchen towel, peel with paring knife. Process potatoes through ricer or food mill onto rimmed baking sheet.

    Gently spread potatoes into even layer and let cool for 5 minutes.

    Transfer 3 cups (16 ounces) warm potatoes to bowl. Using fork, gently stir in egg until just combined. Sprinkle flour and 1 teaspoon salt over potato mixture. Using fork, gently combine until no pockets of dry flour remain.

    Press mixture into rough ball, transfer to lightly floured counter, and gently knead until smooth but slightly sticky, about 1 minute, lightly dusting counter with flour as needed to prevent sticking.

    Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and dust liberally with flour. Cut dough into 8 pieces.

    Lightly dust counter with flour. Gently roll piece of dough into ½-inch-thick rope, dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Cut rope into ¾-inch lengths.

    Holding fork with tines facing down in 1 hand, press each dough piece cut side down against tines with thumb of other hand to create indentation. Roll dough down tines to form ridges on sides. If dough sticks, dust thumb or fork with flour.

    Transfer formed gnocchi to sheets and repeat with remaining dough.

    FOR THE SAUCE: Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until butter is browned and releases nutty aroma, about 11/2 minutes.

    Off heat, add shallot and sage, stirring until shallot is fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and salt; cover to keep warm.

    Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Using parchment paper as sling, gently lower gnocchi from 1 sheet into water and cook until firm and just cooked through, about 90 seconds (gnocchi should float to surface after about 1 minute).

    Using slotted spoon, transfer cooked gnocchi to skillet with sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. Once I put the gnocchi into the skillet I turned the heat back on to mediun-high to rewarm the sauce briefly. Gently toss gnocchi with sauce and serve.

    Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage

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    Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Apricots

    I’m trying to find a few good appetizers that I can use for the upcoming holidays. This recipe was in the same magazine that the Asparagus Fries with Smoked Paprika Aïoli were in; The Best of Fine Cooking’s Appetizers, Fall 2011. There’s lots of good stuff in this, so if you see it on the newsstands you might want to pick one up.

    I feel the need to point out my fingernails in the close-up photos below. No, that is not dirt or chicken & goat poop under my nails. It is oil-based black ink. I’d been up past midnight the night before printing my linoleum print cards and just couldn’t get all of the ink off of my fingernails. I thought you’d want to know.

    I thought these were yummy. They probably would have been even better with the pepper I was supposed to put on the bacon and forgot. I love salty and sweet, and with these you get not only salty and sweet from the bacon and apricot, but crunchy and chewy with the almond and cheese. You can’t get much better than that. Except maybe adding the pepper for some spice…

    Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Apricots

    Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Apricots

    Recipe from The Best of Fine Cooking’s Appetizers, Fall 2011

    Yields 24.

    Apricot sizes can vary; if yours are on the smaller side, just trim the cheese a bit and squish it in. Make sure they are whole and not halved. I used apricots from Turkey and Marcona almonds, which are a little softer than regular almonds. Any apricot and almond will do though.

    • 24 dried apricots (about 7 oz.)
    • 3 oz. plain Havarti, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch squares, 1/4 inch thick
    • 24 almonds (about 1 oz.) 12 strips bacon (about 12 oz.), cut in half crosswise
    • 24 toothpicks, soaked in water
    • Freshly ground black pepper

    Heat a gas grill to high or prepare a hot charcoal fire. I chose not to grill, but instead used a nonstick grill pan. I thought that worked just fine.

    Pry open the apricots (if you look closely you’ll be able to find the slit where they removed the pit) and put a piece of cheese and an almond into each one.

    Wrap a piece of bacon around each apricot, trimming as necessary so it overlaps by 1/2 inch, and secure it with a toothpick. Season the apricots all over with pepper. Somehow I missed that pepper step. They were still delicious without the pepper, but do try to remember it.

    If using a grill, reduce the grill heat to medium (scatter the coals a bit or raise the grate if using charcoal). If using a grill pan, use medium-low heat. Use tongs to grill the apricots on all sides with the grill open, propping them between the bars to hold them up on the narrow sides. Move the apricots around often to avoid flare-ups. Cook until the bacon is crisp all over, about 6 minutes total.

    Serve immediately and remind guests to remove the toothpicks.

    make ahead tips: The apricots can be assembled up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated.

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